"By my authority as Clan leader, and with the approval of our warrior ancestors, I give this cat a new name. From this moment on she will be known as Brightheart, for though her body has been gravely injured, we honor her brave spirit and the light that shines on within her."
Below contains in-depth information for chapter nine of The Darkest Hour. If you are looking for a shorter summary of the entire book, please check the main article.
Chapter Number: 9 (of 30)
Page Numbers: 94-111
Firestar walks into camp, spotting Darkstripe eating fresh-kill near the nettle patch. He notices Mousefur, Goldenflower, and Frostfur are eating nearby, with their backs to Darkstripe. Graystripe had already started spreading the news of what happened near the ravine. Noticing the way that Frostfur and Goldenflower were ignoring Darkstripe, Firestar realizes that the two she-cats must believe Graystripe's version of the events. Firestar takes it as a good sign that his friend was being accepted by the Clan again. As Firestar begins to walk toward Graystripe, Brackenfur emerges from the warrior's den, catching the leader's eye. Brackenfur starts toward Darkstripe, then veers away and joins Firestar.
Brackenfur says that he's heard the news, apologizing to Firestar, explaining that Darkstripe got away from him. The tabby tom insists that it is all his fault. Firestar tells Brackenfur, who is clearly agitated, to steady, resting his tail on the warrior's shoulder. Firestar then requests Brackenfur to tell him what happened.
Brackenfur takes a breath before explaining that Darkstripe told him that he was going to hunt. The warrior says that he went with Darkstripe, but when they got into the forest, the latter said he had to make dirt. Brackenfur continues, telling Firestar that Darkstripe had gone behind a bush, but took a while, so Brackenfur went to check on him, but he had gone. Brackenfur says that if Sorrelkit dies, he'll never forgive himself.
Firestar assures Brackenfur that Sorrelkit will survive. He is not sure of how true his statement is, because the kit is seriously ill. Firestar wonders about the story Brackenfur has told, as it showed that Darkstripe has realized he was being watched and gotten rid of his guard very neatly, reflected that he must have had a reason. Brackenfur miserably asks Firestar what he wants him to do now, and Firestar replies that he wants him to stop blaming himself, as Darkstripe was bound to let them know where his loyalties lie sooner or later. The leader is anxious over Sorrelkit, but not sorry tht Darkstripe had shown his true self in a way no one could ignore.
He had hoped to keep him within the Clan and watch out for any treachery, but he now knows that Darkstripe will never be loyal to him or ThunderClan. He tells Brackenfur to continue guarding Darkstripe, to let him know that he is doing it now, and that he is not to leave the camp until Sorrelkit can tell her side of the story. Brackenfur gives a tense nod and hurries to Darkstripe, crouching beside him to speak to him, causing the dark warrior to snarl before going back to tearing apart his piece of fresh-kill. Firestar turns when he hears pawsteps behind him, seeing Sandstorm. She presses her muzzle against his and purrs as Firestar draws in her scent, being comforted by it.
The she-cat asks him if he is coming to eat, telling him she waited for him, and Graystripe told her what happened. Firestar shoots a glance at Darkstripe, noting that he has finished his meal and is on his way to the warriors' den with Brackenfur on his heels with a determined look on his face. Dustpelt emerges from the den and trots over to Fernpaw, obviously veering sharply away from Darkstripe, and Firestar notes that the cats were making their opinions on Darkstripe very clear.
Mousefur approaches Firestar after he picks a magpie from the fresh-kill pile, meowing about how Thornpaw has mentioned he was going to have a word with her about his warrior ceremony. He remembers what Bluestar's refusal to make apprentices into warriors had led to; the death of Swiftpaw and Lostface's injuries. He offers to take Mousefur and Thornpaw on the dawn patrol the next morning to see how Thornpaw is shaping up, and Mousefur mews that he should not have any doubts about her apprentice's training, and asks if she should tell him about the patrol.
Firestar replies that he will he takes a bite of his magpie, saying he also wants a word with Fernpaw and Ashpaw. He and Sandstorm finish eating, and Sandstorm goes off to Cinderpelt's den while the leader pads over to where the apprentices are eating. He settles beside Thornpaw, asking him if his claws are sharp and if his warrior skills are ready, and the apprentice's eyes gleam as he lets out an enthusiastic yes. Firestar tells him about the dawn patrol, and says they'll hold his ceremony at sunhigh if all goes well. Thornpaw seems very excited, but the light slowly dies from his eyes as he mentions Swiftpaw and Lostface, flicking his tail towards the injured she-cat.
He watches as she walks alongside Cloudtail, feeling bad that they won't be getting their warrior names along with him. Firestar closes his eyes at the memory of so much pain, but tells Thornpaw that he shouldn't let that spoil it for him, as he's deserved it for moons. Lostface speaks up from where she is sitting with Cloudtail, telling Thornpaw that she will be there, and will be the first to call him by his new name. He thanks her, dipping his head gratefully. Cloudtail breaks in and asks if Firestar can change Lostface's name, but Firestar is unsure. Cloudtail sighs, bringing up One-eye and Halftail, saying they wouldn't have started with those names, and there must be some ceremony to change a warrior's name.
Lostface looks at Firestar hopefully, telling him she thinks the cats won't feel as awkward speaking to her if she didn't have such an awful name. Firestar feels a stir of distress as he realizes that he never saw how much of a burden she was carrying, and tells her that he will speak to the elders right away. As he rises to his paws, he tells Fernpaw and Ashpaw that they have not been forgotten, and commends them for their efforts in the race with the dog pack, but they're still too young to be made warriors, and promises that it will not be long.
Ashpaw mews that he understands, as they still have things to learn, while Fernpaw asks nervously about Darkstripe, saying she doesn't want him for a mentor if he really did what he did to Sorrelkit. Firestar promises that he will no longer be her mentor if it turns out to be the truth. Cloudtail demands to know what happened to Sorrelkit, having not heard about it, and Thornpaw and Ashpaw start to tell him. Dustpelt asks who will become Fernpaw's mentor, suggesting that he could take her on as well as Ashpaw, but Firestar shakes his head, saying he wouldn't be tough enough on her, and the warrior admits that he's probably right. Firestar promises that she'll get a good mentor as he heads for the elder's den.
Smallear grumbles, asking what he wants, while Dappletail lets out a drowsy purr and tells the leader not to listen to him. He thanks her, but tells them he wants to talk to One-eye, who blinks her single eye and yawns, telling him she's listening but he better make it quick. He explains about Cloudtail wanting a new name for Lostface, and Speckletail pads over to listen, having forged a strong bond with the young cat while she had been caring for her. She comments that she cannot blame Cloudtail, as no cat would want a name like Lostface. One-eye yawns again and tells Firestar that she was already old when they changed her name, saying she doesn't care what they call her so long as they bring the fresh-kill to her on time, but it is different for a younger cat. She beckons him closer and begins to tell him about changing cat's names.
The next morning, Firestar leads Mousefur and Thornpaw out of the camp at dawn, and notes that it had rained heavily during the night, and the ferns and grass are loaded with shining water drops. Thornpaw's eyes are gleaming very excitedly, but keeps himself calm, determined to she Firestar that he is ready to be a warrior. The three cats pause at the top of the ravine and Thornpaw flashes an inquiring look at Firestar as they catch a strong scent of mouse. He mews that they are not there to hunt, but they cannot pass up a piece of prey. Thornpaw freezes as he determines exactly where the mouse is, and drops into a hunting crouch, Firestar noting how smoothly he moves to avoid the mouse picking up his movement, before springing.
He turns back to the leader and Mousefur with the limp body of the mouth between his jaws. They both congratulate him, Firestar telling him to bury the mouse so they can pick it up on the way back. They continue on towards Snakerocks, Firestar noting that he had not been this way since the morning he found the trail of dead rabbits Tigerstar had left to lure the dog pack to ThunderClan's camp. He has to swallow back bile as he remembers the scent of the blood and death, and reminds himself that the scent is now completely gone, replaced by the regular forest scents. When they reach Snakerocks, Firestar asks Thornpaw can smell.
The apprentice lifts his head and sniffs the air several times before announcing that he can scent the stale smell of a fox, and the old trace of the dogs. He also says he can smell the Thunderpath as well as the scent of an unknown cat. Firestar can scent it too, and tells the cats to come with him to investigate. As the scents grow stronger, Firestar meows that he thinks the scent may be loners or rogues, and there is approximately three of them. Thornpaw suggests that they may be some of Thornpaw's rogues, but Mousefur replies that they took on ShadowClan's scent long ago, and this must be a new lot of cats.
Firestar tells them to continue on, and for Thornpaw to lead. The apprentice is acting very serious now, his excitement quelled as he focused on the group of rogues. They follow the scent for a while, but eventually lose it among a marshy stretch of ground, and Thornpaw apologizes, crestfallen. But Firestar tells him not to worry, as if a scent is gone, it is gone. He tells them he'll let the patrols know to keep an eye out, and purring his approval of Thornpaw's scenting abilities. He then tells them they should head back to the camp, as they have a warrior ceremony to arrange.
Firestar calls a Clan meeting, and sees Thornpaw approaching immediately from the apprentices' den, Mousefur beside him. Firestar notes that he can see Cinderpelt coming out from her den, Graystripe with her, the two of them talking in low voices with their heads together. Firestar wonders how Sorrelkit is, as when he'd seen her last, he'd poked his head into the medicine cat den and seen er sleeping, and Cinderpelt still wasn't sure if the poison was out of her system. He notices Darkstripe emerge from the warriors' den with Brackenfur right behind him, and when they sit down, there is a broad space between them and the other cats.
Firestar looks down at his Clan, thinking that this would be a day Thornpaw would never forget, but it would be the same for him, as Thornpaw would be the first apprentice he would name a warrior. Once all the cats are gathered, Firestar begins the ceremony, presenting Thornpaw with the name Thornclaw. Lostface slips over to him and purrs his new name, swiping her tongue over his ear, Firestar noting that she did indeed keep her promise when she said she would be the first to greet him with his new name. Cloudtail presses against Lostface and greets Thornclaw, flashing a questioning look at Firestar, who nods.
The Clan chants Thornclaw's new name, but then Firestar signals for silence, mentioning Swiftpaw's death, and the Clan murmurs in agreement about his bravery. Firestar goes on to give thanks to Fernpaw and Askpaw for their bravery in the race against the dogs, and the Clan chants their names, Dustpelt's eyes shining in delight, and Darkstripe being the only cat who remains silent, not even turning to look at his apprentice. Firestar beckons Lostface towards him, and Cloudtail remains a tall-length away from her as the lewder begins the name changing ceremony. He asks for StarClan to forget Lostface's name, and grants Lostface the new name of Brightheart for her brave spirit and her internal light despite her appearance.
The Clan calls her new name, and Brightheart's one eye brims with happiness as she purrs too much to speak. Cloudtail tells Firestar he thinks the name is perfect. Firestar swallows, feeling choked up, thinking that moments like this really make being a leader worthwhile. After a moment, Cloudtail tells him that he and Brightheart are going to train together and figure out battle and hunting techniques that she can manage with one eye and one ear. Firestar is uncertain, as Brightheart would never be able to hunt alone and would be at a disadvantage in battle, but it is hard to resist her determination, so he lets Cloudtail train with her, telling them if they can work out new battle moves for her, they can teach them to other cats as well, as Brightheart isn't the first cat to have received such bad injuries, and will not be the last.
Whitestorm comes up and congratulates Brightheart, as she was formerly his apprentice. He also tells Firestar that he saw Sorrelkit just before the ceremony, and that she is beginning to wake up, Cinderpelt thinking she will recover. Firestar purrs that this is great news, and asks if she'll be ready to tell her side of the story, but he replies that he'll have to ask Cinderpelt. He tells Firestar to go check, and he'll see to patrols, Firestar thanking him and hurrying to the medicine cat den. Cinderpelt meets him at the entrance and meows that she was coming to fetch him, and Firestar notes the anxiety in her eyes as she tells him that Sorrelkit is awake, she will be fine, but he needs to hear the story she has to tell.
I, Firestar, leader of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn. Thornpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?
Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Thornpaw, from this moment you will be known as Thornclaw. StarClan honors your loyalty and your intelligence, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.
There's one more ceremony to perform. Spirits of StarClan, you know every cat by name. I ask you now to take away the name from the cat you see before you, for it no longer stands for what she is. By my authority as Clan leader, and with the approval of our warrior ancestors, I give this cat a new name. From this moment on she will be known as Brightheart, for though her body has been gravely injured, we honor her brave spirit and the light that shines on within her.